Following a 16-year hiatus, MTV's iconic show "Yo! MTV Raps" will make its return to the airwaves during a special dubbed, "Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts." The 30-minute retrospective will feature an array of MCs including Tribe Called Quest, Scarface, Ice Cube, Wiz Khalifa, Questlove, Busta Rhymes, Naughty By Nature and Young Jeezy, all reminiscing on three influential videos ["Scenario" by A Tribe Called Quest, "My Mind's Playing Tricks on Me" by Geto Boys and Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day"].
"The concept is actually every episode, hoping that it gets picked up as a series," said writer and consultant Shaheem Reid. "We're going to be looking back at some of the classic videos from the 'Yo! MTV Raps' era. We have brand new interviews with the artists about the making of the song and the making of the video, and then we're also going to incorporate the interviews with some of the artists of today talking about the impact of all of those songs and videos."
Over the course of six weeks, Reid and the show's producers maintained a vigorous schedule of conducting over thirty interviews with various artists, actors, DJs and industry insiders and narrowed down 90 classic hip-hop videos to the three aforementioned picks. Created by Ted Demme and Peter Dougherty, the franchise originally aired from 1988 to 1995, followed by a rebranding as simply "Yo!," and was highly regarded as a staple for hip-hop aficionados across the globe.
"'Yo! MTV Raps' is such an iconic brand. There's something exquisite about it that a lot of people have had the opportunity to appreciate, and the experience of a lot of people getting their first taste of hip-hop globally via 'Yo! MTV Raps,'" said former host Ed Lover. "It brought all of the hip-hop community together; it brought all the people together who love hip-hop music. So I think it's a wonderful thing that MTV2 has decided to do something with 'Yo! MTV Raps' the brand."
When show producers wanted to expand the weekly series, hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, into a daily show, the Hollis, Queens, N.Y. native teamed up with his close friend Andre "Doctor Dre" Brown in March 1989 to join the network. Indeed, Freddy's reluctance to be overexposed gave the duo an opportunity to land the groundbreaking gig.
"It was because of Freddy's desire -- what he thought at the time would be an overexposure of himself is the reason why Dre and I had the opportunity to be on MTV in the first place," Lover revealed. "Because Freddy turned down the idea of doing a daily version of the weekly series. And then they started looking for a host and that's when Dre and I came into pocket."
"The importance of the show back then was MTV's first foray into hip-hop music. ... I think 'Yo! MTV Raps' had the greatest impact on hip-hop in anything that ever existed," he added. "Because we took it from a regional genre, as far as the artists are concerned, to an international genre. 'Yo! MTV Raps' was on all over the world, almost in every country. I've met people throughout my travels and they told me that they started to speak English because of 'Yo! MTV Raps.' It made hip-hop music a global powerhouse. It made people a lot of money because it went global. And that's what 'Yo! MTV Raps' did."
The trio's contribution in providing a daily hip-hop forum also inspired future on-air personalities who would go on to create their own paths with the network. Most notably, MTV's current premier host and correspondent Sway Calloway credits his success with the network to what the "Yo! MTV Raps" hosts were able to accomplish.
"For me being at MTV and watching what Ed, Dre and Fab 5 Freddy were able to accomplish, I went in there with humbleness and humility and hope that I could only bring the same phenomena and integrity that they brought but do it my own way," he said. "And so I like to believe that I haven't let down the legacy of people who come from the same environment, live on a mainstream platform and not forget where it came from, but at the same time not closing doors to where they can go. And it was them that inspired me."
"If I had to compare myself to anybody, it would be him," he said. "He could adjust to any scenario. You could put him in any environment and he could conduct an interview. So whether it was a record label executive, a graffiti artist, a gangsta rapper or even a politician, Fab 5 Freddy had the poise to function and he had the vocabulary to communicate on every level -- he was intelligent."
"I always admired that about him," he recalled. "At that time I never thought that I could get on TV, but when I did get on TV I definitely thought of Fab 5 Freddy and [thought to myself], 'What would he do?'"
Though the newly revamped special will pay homage to the stage that Ed Lover, Doctor Dre and Fab 5 Freddy built, it will also introduce the show to a younger generation of fans.
"I think the thing that's going to separate this show from a lot of the other shows -- and it's no disrespect -- but when you have a special that takes a look back at some of the great things of ten or twenty years ago they usually only incorporate the people that was around at that time," Reid added. "But with this one, not only do we have the legends we also have a lot of the younger acts that wasn't around and they tell us how it inspired them to pursue their career."
"And at the end of the day, it's going to show you all of that old school vs. new school hype really doesn't matter because great music is great music," he said. "These are music videos that came out 15, 20 years ago and they're still relevant and popular today."
"Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts," will air just after the first annual Sucker Free Awards, which premiere at 11 p.m. on Dec. 4.WATCH: "Yo! MTV Raps" Through The Years